My books smell.
All of them.
To clarify, I am referring to my role-playing books.
My paper back novels all just smell the same.
But my role-playing game manuals give off some kind of imagination pheromone.
This is possible, as they are all alive.
To be sure, this is not a bad smell.
These strong sturdy books, some with flashy covers, while others dirty and frail, are all so very unique.
As I've grown older, I can identify many without using my eyes.
Just my nose.
I pondered this today while having coffee, enjoying a reread of Savage Worlds Deluxe.
Closing my eyes, the scent reminded me of the very first time I opened that very same book.
May 2012. Atlantic City. A work conference. A boring hotel room.
Most likely something Studio 2 Publishing puts in their special ink.
Today I realized that my Savage Worlds books actually smell like Savage Worlds.
Other books on my shelf have their own distinctive perfumes.
Some, like Firefly or The Strange, are fragrant, cheerful, and new.
They transport me somewhere completely unfamiliar, yet exciting and wonderful.
It's a new car smell... for books.
While I carefully clutch the older books the smells get more complex.
My Hackmaster 4th Edition Players Handbook, for instance, has a perfume of pungent ink mixed with unbalanced game mechanics and something else.
There is just a hint of my parents basement in Delaware.
Several years ago we almost moved to Delaware, and closer to my mom and dad.
I remember sealing this book up with a bunch of others to be kept in their house for the move.
We didn't move.
Eventually I had to bring them all back.
Of all my books, the most classic smell is that of my Alternity Players Handbook.
Alternity is the first game I learned completely on my own.
In college I taught Alternity to anyone willing to play.
Alternity was mine.
I recall reading those pages for the first time while waiting for a freshman history class. Crafting voyages across the stars in a dark and disheveled college apartment bedroom. There is still a slight scent of incense in the Mindwalking section.
That old book smell is certainly present, and it makes me sad.
One day these pages will certainly fall out, and the book will no longer be of use at a table. Not that I play Alternity anymore.
But one day again I may.
Yes, I could certainly identify my books by their smell alone.
Some smell like tomorrow, while others of today.
The very best smell like yesterday or the day before.
Yet sadly, too many smell like never again.
My favorites, of course, smell like forever.